Shelling, and Battle, Escalate in the DPR

I arrived back in Donbass before Victory Day, and for a few days things were relatively quiet. However, there’s been an escalation in recent days. The day before yesterday, I was near Ukraine-held Mariupol, the DPR village of Kominternovo, and here was the scene –

As you can hear, active shelling, and battle going on – 

Shelling had hit, and destroyed a home, and a 26-year-old woman had sustained this injury – 

Meanwhile, perhaps the most active zone of conflict has become around the industrial area, (known as Promzone, from the Russian), just a few kilometres to the north of Donetsk, near Yasinovate, held by DPR, and Avdeevka, held by Ukraine.

Here’s a new video of ongoing battle there, spoken in Russian, but shelling is in universal language –

And that is the current situation in Donbass, as is.

Alexander Khodakovsky on Donbass – No Offence, But Do Not Believe a Word of It

As I went to write this, some on Twitter starting sending me the latest video from Khodakovsky, in which he, represented as a ‘Donbass commander’ claims that Ukraine would have long taken over were it not for ‘100,000 Russian soldiers’.  Add a ‘sigh’ emoji to that, and let’s get on…. 

There’s few things that the western, and Ukrainian of course, media love more than someone on the DPR / LPR side ‘speaking out of turn’. The war’s been 3 years now, and enough former leaders, and prominent figures have left the DLPR for various reasons, gone to Moscow with their various grievances, and been more than happy to sit in studios there and launch missives against the DLPR, notably former DPR commander Rebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the Vostok Battalion speaks during an interview with Reuters in Donetsk, eastern UkraineIgor Strelkov. Of course, what they’re actually doing is looking to stick the knife into those who wronged them, the reason they’re not there any longer.

But actually you’d really be hard pressed to find a figure who has given more headlines to western media than Alexander Khodakovsky, (pictured), founder of the Vostok Battalion, and actually still in Donbass himself – have a look –

Ukraine’s Eastern Separatist Leaders Turn on Each Other

Moscow is bankrolling Ukraine rebels: ex-separatist official

Exclusive: Ukraine rebel commander acknowledges fighters had BUK missile

And actually, this is just the tip of the iceberg, in as much as what makes it into maintstream western media. On his VKontake account, Khodakovsky keeps up a stream Rebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the so-called Vostok battalion - or eastern battalion - speaks during an interview in Donetskof posts detailing ‘heavy losses’ among DPR fighters, in his words, how ‘everything is terrible’ in the DPR command’, Moscow is controlling everything, and more – much of which makes it into Ukrainian, and Russian opposition media. However, here are 5 simple reasons why, as per the above, you shouldn’t believe any of it – 

1. Khodakovsky, in contrast to how he is conveniently described in the media, does not have any position in the DPR, he is not a ‘commander’ of anything at all, and hasn’t been since his Vostok Battalion were incorporated into the regular DPR army, in the latter stages of 2015.

2. Khodakovsky feuded with Strelkov for control of the DPR in 2014, and wanted to be succeed Borodai as leader of the DPR in October 2014, however Alexander Zakharchenko got the position, and since then Khodakovsky has pursued a campaign against KhodokovskyZakharchenko, and de facto, the DPR he heads.

3. Who is Khodakovsky actually working for? He has close ties with Donetsk billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, from Donetsk and known to be angry at the recent nationalisation of his businesses there, by the DPR.

4. Add to that, that Khodakovsky was once a senior member of Ukraine’s SBU Security Service, and talk lingers of ongoing connections.

Yet, this isn’t a personal attack against Khodakovsky, who I believe I even met some time in 2014, and who was perfectly civil with me. I have no personal issue with him, and I know a lot of men in Donbass who are still loyal to Vostok, and to him. And perhaps 3, and 4 can be explained, perhaps the Donetsk-native really does want the best for the DPR, as he claims, writes what he writes because of the ‘greater good’ etc. Yet, to reason 5, as to why what he writes, and says cannot be taken as anything more than comment, hearsay, or speculation.

5. Khodakovsky never provides any evidence of his claims. It’s all bare words. And they, particularly recently, are all from the same agenda – against the DPR authorities, Khodakovsky 1claiming ‘everything is terrible‘, etc. Khodakovsky makes no effort to correct the common misconception that he’s a ‘commander’ etc, rather he plays up to it. Where he’s writing this from? Seemingly, his home, apprently in Donetsk. And if he can’t, within his own sphere, find enough negative information, he’ll just assume the worst and write it anyway, as even he admits –

“I do not have the information about the losses in the other units, but I can guess that they are considerable too…

So, that’s that. Khodakovsky is a lot of things to a lot of people. But, with due respect to the man, and sad to say even about a man who made so many noises at the start about wanting to do the right thing etc, just do not believe a word he says about Donbass. 

Western Media Reaction to Victory Days in Donbass

Recent Victory Days in Donbass saw mass turnouts, I filmed in Lugansk where there were around 100,000 people celebrating, amazing entertainment, a concert, and more. 

What was the western media’s reaction to this, mass display of patriotism? Well, beginning with the Atlantic Council funded site Medium, the Atlantic Council itself, funded by western governments – and even Ukraine itself – to promote western, in this case pro-Ukrainian propaganda, it was universally negative.

All they could find to do was pore over the military equipment on display, attemping to connect it all to Russia, in various ways. 

That pumped on into other western media, with Yahoo News, reporting from AFP, declaring Ukraine rebels roll out banned tanks on WWII Victory Day in an article which put great weight on that supposed feature, and only grudgingly, casting the shadow of the Kremlin, mentioned the support shown by locals for the day.

It’s indeed ironic that the western media has absolutely ignored the constant violations of the Minsk agreement by Ukrainain forces ongoing shelling of Donbass, but when a few military vehicles peacefully roll through streets in a traditional parade, it’s all uproar and ‘bad separatists’, ‘Kremlin’ all over…

Avdeevka Shelling: Who Did It? The Real Story

Avdeevka is a town of around 35,000, pre-war population, held by Ukrainian forces, some 5km northwest of the city of Donetsk (city limits), held by DPR.

Yesterday, Ukrainian, and pro-Ukrainian media started making a massive storm about it having been shelled ‘by separatist forces’, with 4 civilians killed. Just some sources here –

http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/3850468-polytsyia-pokazala-foto-obstreliannoi-avdeevky

http://fakty.ictv.ua/ru/ukraine/20170513-avdiyivka-nakryta-vognem-bojovykiv-bagato-zagyblyh/

http://gordonua.com/news/war/v-avdeevke-v-rezultate-obstrela-boevikov-pogibli-chetyre-mestnyh-zhitelya-zhebrivskiy-188032.html

On the evening of Eurovision, it generated mass attention, with Ukraine’s president Poroshenko loudly then announcing that he was cancelling his visit to the song contest final in Kiev, due to the shelling – which made international news –

https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-politics/2227433-president-poroshenko-not-to-attend-esc-grand-final-due-to-shelling-of-avdiivka.html

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201705141053593390-poroshenko-skips-eurovision/

http://gordonua.com/news/politics/poroshenko-evrovidenie-omrachilo-uzhasnoe-ubiystvo-mirnyh-zhiteley-avdeevki-no-eto-cena-kotoruyu-platyat-ukraincy-za-rossiyskuyu-agressiyu-188091.html

https://www.rbc.ua/rus/news/poroshenko-otmenil-poseshchenie-finala-evrovideniya-1494702759.html

The Donetsk People’s Republic responded today:

“It is another provocation ordered by the commander of the Donetsk operations and tactical group with involvement of the 72nd separate mechanized brigade, the Right Sector (a far right group banned in Russia), Ukraine’s National Guard along with foreign media outlets in the run-up to the Minsk talks,” the Donetsk news agency quoted the spokesperson as saying.

The DPR explained how the provocation was staged.

“The 72nd brigade opens fire on the DPR position, whereas the Right Sector is shelling Avdeyevka and foreign media are recording,” he said.

Meanwhile, well-known blogger Colonel Cassad analysed the photos of the shelling, concluding that it had actually come from the Ukraine-held settlement of Vodyane, around 5km from Avdeevka –

Now of course, shelling damage can be analysed in different ways, to suit different needs. So, a wider context must also be assessed. Who did this shelling suit?

The DPR had just enjoyed perhaps one of the most successful, high-profile weeks of their 3-year existence, with both a mass Victory Day celebration, and a huge Republic Day festival.  So, to believe it’s the Donetsk People’s Republic, you have to believe that, off the back of this, they’ve decided to shell a civilian area of Avdeevka, full well knowing how much they would be hammered in the media for that.

There have been no recent DPR attempts to capture the town of Adveevka, nor any sign that that’s the case. So why would they, as Ukraine wants us to believe, arbitrarily decide to shell the settlement, with the predictable, and of course tragic, loss of life – 4 deaths reported?

Meanwhile, on the Ukraine side, it’s a different story. Poroshenko can take the moral high ground by not attending Eurovision, due to his loudly-announced ‘grief’. Not attending a Eurovision it was pretty clear something embarrassing was going to happen at, and it duly did, with Ukrainian prankster Vitaliy Sedyuk mounting the stage to bear his bottom. 

There’s also the bonus for Ukraine of, in a week when all events in the DPR had passed off successfully, without a hitch, another opportunity to attack the ‘evil separatists’, Putin, and so on. 

And, be sure, Ukraine’s PR-machine – which has seen Poroshenko turn up to UN Meetings, World Economic Forums, and more, bearing items of wreckage he claims were the result of ‘separatist, Russian-backed shelling‘, etc – will only just be starting on this.

So, if you ask the question, who gains from the shelling of Avdeevka, there’s only one answer, Ukraine. As to who did it, well, it’s not too much of a leap to come to that conclusion.

The OSCE in Donbass – Must-Watch Video

I watched this recent video by American video journalist Patrick Lancaster – from Donetsk, a few days ago.

I’ve written, and filmed, a lot about the OSCE myself, but this is it right here. If you want to know about the OSCE in Donbass, and what locals think of them, you have to watch this video –

Report, UK Citizen Chris Garrett: War Criminal

An Austrian man who fought for the Ukraine side in Donbass has been arrested in Poland, for war crimes committed in Donbass. However, a British man, Chris Garrett, has gone for more than 2 years unpunished, for offences just as bad. Here is a brief report, more to come soon. 

Name: Chris Garrett

AKA: Swampy

D.O.B: 1984

From: Isle of Man

Crime: Served with Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov battalion, responsible for mass war crimes in Donbass, from October 2014 to April 2015. Is now back serving for Ukraine in Donbass (see below).

Evidence:  His own testimony, in interview. ‘Chris Garrett, a 31-year-old British tree surgeon, knows what it’s like to shoot a man dead.’

Video of Garrett in Donbass: Mariupol after shelling, January 24th, 2015 –

Supporting video: My interview with Ben Stimson, British man arrested in the UK for serving with people’s militia in Donbass, despite never firing a shot in anger there –

Background to Garrett: (from Newsweek, April 2015)

His dream since the age of 12, when he first joined the Army Cadet Force—a voluntary youth organization set up by the British army and Ministry of Defense—was to be a soldier. At 16, he left school and enrolled in Britain’s Army Foundation College, which trains 16- and 17-year-olds to become future soldiers. While at the college, he suffered a serious physical attack, details of which Garrett prefers not to discuss. The assault prompted him to cut short his service and return home. He never achieved his goal of becoming a soldier. On December 29, 2003, Garrett attempted to rob a gas station and was subsequently convicted and imprisoned for 19 months. His criminal record ruined his chances of joining the British army or from getting private security work. An injury that shattered his left heel ruled out the French Foreign Legion—the French army’s legendary force made up of foreign nationals.

In 2008, he made his way to the border of Thailand and Myanmar to join the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), a rebel group whose goal is to establish an autonomous state in Myanmar for the ethnic Karen people. Garrett bounced between his home on Britain’s Isle of Man and Myanmar. He assisted with training, rebuilding projects and land mine clearance, but fighting wasn’t an option. Then, in August 2014, a friend in Ukraine, whom he had met online, suggested that he join the battalions there. “When I realized everything in Ukraine had kicked off,” Garrett says, “I thought, I’m in the right mindset; I might as well go.” He didn’t expect to be involved in fighting, but Garrett did think he could help with removing munitions.’

Current location: Believed to be Donbass again, as per this photo posted on April 22nd, on his own Facebook account.


His contact details: https://www.facebook.com/chris.garrett.16503

The Paradox of the OSCE Death in Donbass

Yesterday, shortly after 11am local time, an OSCE member, male, paramedic was killed in the Lugansk People’s Republic, near the small village of Pryshyb, and two injured, as their armoured vehicle went over a landmine. Initial reports that the victim was British, were later found not to be case, two OSCE female members were injured – one German, female, one Czech, male, (both reported as now having been discharged from hospital).

Of course, from the start, attempt to vilify the Lugansk People’s Republic for this, with Ukrainian propaganda publication the Kyiv Post doing that, citing Ukraine’s advisor to Ministry of Internal Affair, Anton Gerashchenko, blaming Russia, Gerashchenko always on hand with a quote about the ‘evils’ of Russia, and the People’s Republics of Donbass – while himself running the Myrotvorets site, arranging bounties to kill ‘separatists’ and on.

However, the OSCE convoy had in fact deviated from main roads,  and gone down sideroads. Why it did this, who knows, but it did, and has resulted in the first death of an OSCE worker since war began in Donbass, over 3 years ago.

The death has brought mass attention from the media, and drawn comment from everyone from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to German PM Angela Merkel. Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, pictured, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the 57-nation OSCE, demanded a thorough investigation, adding that those responsible ‘would be held accountable’. All of which is way, way more attention than is ever given to the thousands of civilian deaths in Donbass caused by Ukrainian shelling. 

More, the amount of times I’ve personally witnessed the OSCE either ignore, or actually even cover up for the Ukrainian shelling which has taken the lives of thousands of Donbass civilians now –

But it seems the life of one OSCE worker is an international incident, the lives of thousands of Donbass civilians, seemingly, hardly worth a mention.

On the Russia side, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has called for a full, transparent investigation into the incident. Russia has stated it believes the incident to be a ‘provocation’. 

Who did it, will indeed hopefully be ascertained. But that there are Ukrainian terrorists working in the Donetsk, and Lugansk, people’s republics is well known. I even interviewed one here, last September –

In any case, I send my condolences to the family of the victim, this is a sad incident, and one which raises a lot of questions, and throws up a paradox about the value of human life.